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While in New York, I was staying in a hotel just a few blocks away from Carnegie Deli, so there was really no excuse for not trying their famous smoked meat. They serve up standard deli fare, including corned beef, pastrami, brisket and chopped liver. The front of the restaurant is dedicated to take-out orders, where the deli counter is. They also have some seating for those who want to eat in. Since I was by myself, I ordered this to go, opting to eat this back at the hotel.

Pastrami sandwich

The first thing I noticed on their menu was the steep prices of their sandwiches. Most of them hovered around $15-16. However, since this is an NYC institution, I knew I couldn’t leave empty handed. One of their menu items which caught my eye was the Woody Allen – “For the dedicated Fresser only! Lotsa Corned Beef plus lotsa Pastrami” ($18.95). I considered getting this since it was the best of both worlds – corned beef and pastrami. However, I remember Mike telling me that “Fresser” was the equivalent of “pig” in Yiddish, so I knew it would be way too much for me. So, I decided on the hot pastrami sandwich for $15.95.

After picking up my sandwich, I went to the cashier to pay. I didn’t realize they take cash only, but luckily I had just enough to cover the sandwich. So, remember to bring cash if you’re planning on making a trip here.

When I got back to the hotel, I unwrapped the foil from the sandwich to find a monster of a sandwich inside. They are extremely generous with their meat. It was piled a couple inches high! I can’t imagine one person eating this entire sandwich. I noticed on their menu that they charge $3 extra for sharing, which seemed a bit ridiculous to me. But given how big their sandwiches are, I guess they don’t want people to take up their limited seats if they’re only going to share one sandwich.

Pastrami sandwich

The meat was sandwiched between two small pieces of rye bread, which certainly didn’t hold up with the massive pile of meat in between them. It also didn’t help that I had to transport it back to the hotel. So, I actually ended up eating the sandwich with a fork and knife. After my first bite, I was in love! The meat had the perfect amount of fat and seasoning. What a deliciously juicy sandwich! They also gave me a small container of mustard, which I didn’t end up using since the sandwich was already so flavourful. I think I only managed to eat about a quarter of this. I also went to Katz’s Deli during my NYC visit, and the sandwich at Carnegie was definitely larger, and overall, I preferred the sandwich at Carnegie.

While waiting for my sandwich to be prepared at the deli, I considered getting a slice of cheesecake, which apparently is pretty amazing. Luckily I decided not to, since I couldn’t even finish the sandwich.

Although it seems like a tourist trap given the high prices, it was definitely worth it. The pastrami sandwich was amazing – not at all overrated. Definitely a must-try if you’re a fan of smoked meat!

Pastrami sandwich

At a glance:

  • Come hungry! Their sandwiches are piled ridiculously high with meat
  • They serve up an amazing pastrami sandwich
  • Opened 6:30am to 4am daily
  • Cash only
  • Ratings (out of 5):

  • Food (aka the pastrami sandwich): 4.5 stars
  • Service: N/A (ordered take-out)
  • Atmosphere: 3 stars
  • Carnegie Deli on Urbanspoon

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